Top tips for making family holidays a success

From the jungles of Borneo to the weird and wonderful wildlife of the Galapagos, every one of our family tours is carefully put together to ensure a balance between amazing experiences and the needs of children and families. We want to make sure the moments that children experience on our trips are magical, and that the itineraries, transport and accommodation and all the other details are such that all the family has the most relaxing holiday possible. And just to make sure that's the case, here are a few of top tips to help you!


Preparation and getting there

Planning your holiday. Involve the experts – your children! It’s an obvious point, but one sometimes ignored – asking children for their thoughts on what they want to do and what they want to see can move you a long way towards figuring out your destination. If you’re suggestion of an incredible safari in Africa is met with overwhelming apathy, then a few suggestions might prompt your family members to start thinking about whether they’d prefer to swim with sea lions in The Galapagos or head off to China to meet the kung-fu monks of Shaolin Temple! Holidays that manage to smuggle in some learning can complement your child’s education as well, so checking what's coming up on the school curriculum can be a handy way of informing your destination shortlist.

Clothing. Pack with the three Cs in mind: comfort, climate and convenience. A bit of research about the likely weather in your destination at the time of year you’re visiting can pay dividends – a waterproof jacket close to hand during a seasonal downpour may just do the trick in averting a tantrum! Bear in mind, however, that it can be counter-productive to try to discard particular favourites – if there’s a football shirt your kid is seldom seen outdoors without, then we wouldn’t recommend insisting it’s left at home, even if you happen to be heading for a cold climate! That kind of item can have the added bonus of being great in encouraging interaction with local communities as well.

Health. We always carry first aid equipment on our tours, and our tour leaders are trained in first aid. However, whether you travel with us or go independently, packing some first aid essentials is a sensible precaution. Plasters and antiseptic cream for those occasional cuts and scrapes, sunscreen and something you know helps alleviate unsettled tummies – all useful inclusions. Likewise some antibacterial spray or hand gel, and of course plenty of the appropriate medicine if your child has any allergies or is asthmatic (and let us know in advance if this is the case). If you have any queries about particular destinations in relation to your child’s health, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer your questions. And don’t forget to sort out any necessary immunisations well in advance of your holiday.

In transit. If the idea of a long-haul flight (or indeed just a short hop) with screaming children fills you with dread, then be sure to plan the flight carefully. Time of travel – for example taking an overnight flight if your children are good sleepers – is an important consideration. Also, make sure you let your airline know in advance that you're travelling with children – they can often provide some toys and games to help keep them amused, as well as offering assistance with boarding and so on. It's a good idea to make sure your family's hand baggage includes some favourite games and books etc. Bear in mind some interactive games as well – from board games to I-spy - can help too, both en route to your destination and during any travelling that takes place while on holiday.


On holiday

Be at home on your travels. A couple of carefully selected creature comforts can be a godsend for parents and children alike. A favourite book or an easy-to-pack toy for the park is great for relaxing between planned activities. It can also be a wonderful way for your kids to meet local children as well.

Take it easy. Our itineraries take in plenty of great sights, but it’s unfair to push kids (and parents!) into doing too much. That’s why we include plenty of free time, minimise long journeys and prioritise what we think are the best and most enjoyable moments a destination has to offer. If you don’t travel with us, our advice remains the same – less can be more. Figure out what you and your family really want to do and make sure you do it; if it’s exhausting just to read your holiday plans, you’ve probably included too much!

Routine. A holiday is by definition a break from the norm, and while interrupting routines is inevitable on holidays, sticking to some important parts of your life at home might just be the key to an enjoyable trip for all the family. Sleeping is a particularly important part of a child’s routine. Sticking to a child’s normal bedtime makes good sense, and if taking a favourite bedtime toy or blanket might help them to adapt to new environments, it’s well worth packing.

Food. Our general advice is: be bold, but not foolish! It’s one of the indicators that you’re in exotic climes – trying out a plate of something new and interesting, the enticing spices and herbs of a different culture’s palate. We pick the restaurants and cafes we use on our tours carefully, but many of our tours don’t include all meals, so there’s time for you to strike out on your own. It’s all part of the fun of exploring a new place, and our tour leaders are always on hand to give you suggestions on what and where to eat. Many of the countries we visit on our family trips are renowned for their cuisine: the tagines of Morocco, for example, or the mezeof Turkey, the many flavours of Vietnam and the indulgence of Italy. We even include cookery classes on some trips, so your child could come back from the Amalfi Coast a budding pizza chef!

It’s your holiday too! Managing the demands of your children in a new environment can be tough, so it’s important to remember you need to relax as well. Make sure the holiday you choose holds appeal for all members of the family, and be sure to research destinations and tours so that you know there are activities that you’ll enjoy, and that there is sufficient free time for you to unwind. Travelling with another family you know can be a great way of both relaxing and sharing childcare duties – taking it turns babysitting, for example, and more children for yours to interact with. If that sounds good, check out our Private Groups tours – our travel experts can tailor trips to your needs and wishes.

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